The Philadelphia 76ers staved off a furious Miami Heat comeback attempt to pull out a 103-97 win at Wells Fargo Center on Friday.
The Sixers took a 26-point lead into the fourth quarter, but a 30-7 run by the Heat narrowed the gap to 97-92 with little less than two minutes remaining, and the game got even closer than that, when a Wayne Ellington trey made the score 101-97 with 25 seconds left.
Then, a botched in-bounds play by the Sixers kept Miami's hopes alive, but Ben Simmons intercepted Justise Winslow's ensuing in-bounds pass to pretty much seal the deal.
Simmons led a balanced Philly offense with 20 points on eight-for-13 shooting. Joel Embiid and Dario Saric each scored 17, and JJ Redick and Robert Covington added 13 apiece.
The Sixers also benefited from Hassan Whiteside's early exit. The Miami center played just 18 minutes before leaving the game sick.
With the win, Philly improved to 25-24, maintaining their hold on eighth place in the Eastern Conference. The Heat dropped to 29-23 and a half-game back of Washington for fourth.
MITCHELL, WALKER STAR
Fresh off his second straight Rookie of the Month honour, the Jazz's Donovan Mitchell dropped 40 points (14 of 19 from the field, seven of nine from long range) in Utah's 129-97 win at Phoenix. He added five rebounds, six assists and two steals to boot. It was Mitchell’s second game with 40 or more points this season, and he is giving Simmons a run for his money in the Rookie of the Year race.
In Charlotte, Kemba Walker – whose name continues to be run through the trade rumour mill – registered 41 points and nine assists in the Hornets' 133-126 home win over the Pacers. Eight of his points and six of his assists came in the first quarter, when his team scored a franchise-record 49 points.
Tim Hardaway Jr. shot a woeful one of 14 from the field, missing all seven of his three-point attempts, in the Knicks' 92-90 loss at Milwaukee. He went one for 10 in New York's loss at Boston Wednesday.
Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, who scored 27 and 19 respectively, produced a couple of highlight drives in Boston's 119-110 win at home over Atlanta.
Charlotte Hornets 133-126 Indiana Pacers
Boston Celtics 119-110 Atlanta Hawks
Los Angeles Lakers 102-99 Brooklyn Nets
Toronto Raptors 130-105 Portland Trail Blazers
Milwaukee Bucks 92-90 New York Knicks
Philadelphia 76ers 103-97 Miami Heat
New Orleans Pelicans 114-100 Oklahoma City Thunder
Utah Jazz 129-97 Phoenix Suns
Golden State Warriors 119-104 Sacramento Kings
ROCKETS AT CAVALIERS
The Cavaliers have won three of their last four, which does not sound all that impressive on the surface, but in context of how Cleveland have been playing since mid-December, it is downright scorching. LeBron James' team will not have an easy time keeping that momentum going in Saturday's game against the Rockets, especially with Kevin Love sidelined with an injured hand.